The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States marked commencement of the four-year term of Donald Trump as President and Mike Pence as Vice President. An estimated 160,000 people attended the public ceremony held on Friday, January 20, 2017 on the West Front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Along with being the oldest and wealthiest person inaugurated as president, he is the first without prior military or governmental service experience to hold the office.
The event was the 58th presidential inauguration. The official theme of the event was “Uniquely American”. Held in Washington, D.C. from January 17 to 21, 2017, inaugural events included concerts, the swearing-in ceremony, a Congressional luncheon, parade, inaugural balls, and the interfaith inaugural prayer service.
Administered by Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, the presidential oath was taken by Trump as his first task after becoming president at noon, in keeping with Article Two, Section 1, Clause 8 and the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, with the vice presidential oath of office taken by Pence and administered by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas immediately preceding it. Trump was sworn in with his left hand on the Lincoln Bible and on his family’s Bible. The inauguration was accompanied by protests in the United States and other countries.
The inauguration marked the formal culmination of the presidential transition of Donald Trump that began when he won the United States presidential election on November 8, 2016 and became the President-elect. Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, were formally elected by the Electoral College when it met on December 19, 2016. The win was officially certified by an electoral vote tally by a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2017.
Upon his inauguration, Trump became the first person to ever be elected President without any prior military or governmental experience. He is also the oldest person to assume the Presidency, as well as the wealthiest person. His wife, Melania, is only the second First Lady to be born outside the United States, after Louisa Adams (who had American descent), First Lady to John Quincy Adams when he assumed the Presidency in 1825. Mike Pence of Indiana is the first sitting Governor to be elected as Vice President since Spiro Agnew under Richard Nixon in 1968, and the seventh Hoosier to occupy the office.
The inauguration was planned primarily by two committees: the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee. Although the election was scheduled for November 8, 2016, the congressional committee began construction of the inaugural platform on September 21.
A number of artists who were approached to perform at the inauguration refused, including Jennifer Holliday who was originally intended to perform, but withdrew herself from the program after further consideration.
Joint Congressional Committee
The swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural luncheon for President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence were planned by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a committee composed of United States SenatorRoy Blunt of Missouri, the committee chair, and Senate party leaders Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Chuck Schumer of New York, and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and House party leaders Kevin McCarthy of California and Nancy Pelosi of California. The committee was overseen by the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies chose the inaugural theme, “Uniquely American”, a phrase that was meant to highlight the inaugural ceremony as “a uniquely American expression of our Constitutional system.”The theme was also meant to to stress the peaceful transition of power, with Americans “united as a people behind an enduring republic”, and invoke “Make America Great Again“, Trump’s campaign slogan and one of the main topics of his inaugural address.
The Inauguration Committee released the full schedule of the January 20 inaugural events on December 21, 2016.Military support to the 58th inauguration was coordinated by Joint Task Force National Capital Region, providing musical military units, marching bands, color guards, ushers, firing details, and salute batteries.
Presidential Inaugural Committee
The 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee organized several other inauguration-related events at the direction of the President‑elect and Vice President‑elect of the United States, such as the concerts, parade, balls and prayer service. The chairman of the committee was Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a real estate investor and longtime Trump friend and ally, and the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Colony Capital. The co-chairs of the committee were Lewis M. Eisenberg and Roy Bailey. Committee members included casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, Steve Wynn and Phil Ruffin, oil entrepreneur Harold Hamm, businesswoman Diane Hendricks, coal businessman Joe Craft, Gail Icahn, wife of Carl Icahn, and Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets. The committee reported raising over $100 million for the inauguration from donors.
Diplomat summit: Chairman’s Global Dinner
On Tuesday, January 17, then-President-elect Trump arrived in Washington, D.C. to attend what was titled the “Chairman’s Global Dinner,” a high-profile dinner that was intended to serve as an introduction between foreign diplomats and the incoming Trump administration officials and appointees. The dinner was black tie and invitation-only, and was described by The Wall Street Journal as the most high-profile event preceding the inauguration, with both Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence addressing the gathering. The event was held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. Thomas Barrack, the leading organizer of the inaugural activities, described the dinner as the “first fingerprint on the global canvas of social democracy and outreach.”
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice to succeed John Kerry as Secretary of State, was in attendance, as well as former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and National Security Advisor-designate Michael T. Flynn, and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, according to reporters in attendance at the event. More than 200 foreign diplomats attended the event out of 500 total guests. During his speech to the group, Trump praised his choices thus far for Cabinet positions as well as his choice of Pence as his Vice President.According to The Boston Globe and the Associated Press, the menu included mustard black cod and filet mignon as entrees, and baked Alaska for dessert.
Arlington National Cemetery wreath laying ceremony
Trump and Vice President-elect Pence attended a luncheon at Trump’s hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion, and afterwards, the official wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, accompanied by his wife and family. Trump and Pence were escorted by Major General Bradley Becker at the ceremony. The Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 400,000, mostly members of the armed forces, Medal of Honor recipients, and high ranking political officials.
Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration concert
On the evening of January 19, Trump hosted the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration,” a concert for his supporters that were attending his inauguration the following day. The concert, held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, featured performances by Lee Greenwood (who performed “God Bless the USA“), Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, DJ Ravidrums, and The Piano Guys Trump addressed his supporters at the start of the festivities, saying that the “forgotten man and the forgotten woman will not be forgotten anymore”. Actor Jon Voight also spoke at the event, stating, “We have been witness to a barrage of propaganda that left us all breathless with anticipation, not knowing if God could reverse all the negative lies against Mr. Trump, whose only desire was to make America great again.” The concert concluded with a fireworks celebration.
Church service and White House reception
On the morning of the inauguration, on January 20, after staying the night at the Blair House, the traditional house used by the incoming President-elect due to its proximity to the White House, Trump and his wife, Melania, and Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, attended a church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church. The tradition dates back to James Madison, with every President since then attending the church service the morning of their inauguration. The service was led by Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist minister who campaigned for Trump during the election.
After the church service, Trump and his wife went to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. The Obamas greeted the Trumps, and Melania presented the couple with a gift. They then posed for photos in front of the White House press corps. The presentation of a gift was a tradition started by Michelle Obama when she presented George W. Bush and Laura Bush with a gift on the day of her husband’s inauguration in 2009. Afterward, they held a tea reception inside the White House, along with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, and Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence. As per tradition, following the meeting between the President and the President-elect, they shared the Presidential motorcade limousine, and made their way to the Capitol for the inaugural ceremony.
Ceremony theme: “Uniquely American”
Roy Blunt kicked off the inauguration ceremony at 11:41 a.m. with welcoming remarks about the nation’s “commonplace and miraculous” tradition of a peaceful transition of power. Three religious figures delivered invocations, followed by the Missouri State University chorale performing an original work, “Now We Belong”. After short remarks, Chuck Schumer ended his speech by asking everyone to stand for the swearing-in ceremony.
Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with their respective wives, the First Ladies, all attended Trump’s inauguration,including Hillary Clinton, Trump’s main opponent in the election. George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush did not attend the inauguration due to health reasons.Vice presidents Joe Biden, Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney also were present.
At 11:54 a.m, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas swore in Mike Pence as the 48th Vice President of the United States, with Pence’s hand on his personal Bible as well as the Bible of Ronald Reagan, the politician who inspired Pence to join the Republican Party. A performance of “America the Beautiful” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir followed. At noon Trump became the 45th President of the United States, taking the oath of office with Chief Justice John Roberts. Trump was also sworn in using two Bibles, a Bible his mother gifted him and the historic Lincoln Bible. After the swearing-in, the Marine Band performed “Hail to the Chief“, and Trump received the traditional 21-gun salute in his honor.
Trump then delivered his 16-minute inaugural address of 1,433 words, the shortest inaugural address since Jimmy Carter‘s 1,229-word address in 1977. In his speech, Trump promised to put “America First” and to end “American carnage”.Three religious leaders delivered benedictions following Trump’s speech, bringing the total number of prayers during the ceremony to six, a record number. Reverend Franklin Graham, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, Pastor Paula White, Rabbi Marvin Hier and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson gave the benedictions. Jackie Evancho concluded the ceremony with a performance of the U.S. national anthem.
After the inaugural ceremony, President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence escorted former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama to a departure ceremony on the east side of the U.S. Capitol. The Trumps exchanged remarks and bid farewell to the Obamas at the base of the helicopter that would transport them to Joint Base Andrews, and then returned to the steps of the Capitol building where they waved as the Obama’s helicopter took off. Before the luncheon and in keeping with tradition, President Trump signed his first presidential orders in the President’s Room at the Capitol, and then signed the guest book for the luncheon.
Next, Trump signed orders to officially present the nominations for his Cabinet and several sub‑Cabinet officials to the Senate for confirmation. His first bill that he signed into law was a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947 granted to him that allowed the nomination of retired General James Mattis to be nominated for the position of United States Secretary of Defense. The National Security Act of 1947 requires a seven-year waiting period before retired military personnel can assume the role of Secretary of Defense. Mattis became only the second Secretary of Defense to receive such a waiver, following George Marshall, who served under President Harry S. Truman. Following in tradition, Trump used various commemorative pens to sign the Cabinet nominations, and distributed them among the lawmakers and guests that had gathered. The pens are traditionally given as a gift to politicians or individuals touched by the action, or were instrumental in its implementation.
In addition to formally establishing his Cabinet nominees before the Senate confirmation process, Trump also signed a proclamation for a National Day of Patriotism, which has previously been called upon by several other former presidents including Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Trump was accompanied at the signing ceremony by his wife, and children, and several of his grandchildren, as well as the chairs of the Joint Congressional Inauguration Committee, including Senators Roy Blunt, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, and Congressional leaders Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi. During the ceremony, the lawmakers joked with President Trump, and traded pens based on their approval or disapproval of his Cabinet picks. The Trumps and Pences then attended an inaugural luncheon at the U.S. Capitol before traveling from there to the presidential reviewing stand at the White House to watch the parade.
As former President and Mrs. Obama began their journey to a vacation in California, the Trumps and Pences joined several congressional guests for the inaugural luncheon in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Guests included top Washington lawmakers as well as former presidents and vice presidents. During his formal address at the lunch, Trump asked those in attendance to give Hillary Clinton, his opponent during the 2016 election, a standing ovation.
A luncheon at the U.S. Capitol has been part of the inaugural program since 1953 (before that time, the luncheon was usually held at the White House and hosted by the outgoing President and First Lady). The menu for the 2017 inaugural luncheon, which in the past has often featured dishes representative of the home states of the new President and Vice President, included more traditional dishes from around the country. The first course consisted of Maine lobster and Gulf shrimp with saffron sauce and peanut crumble, accompanied by a J. Lohr 2013 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay. The second dish contained Seven Hills Angus beef in dark chocolate and juniper jus with potato gratin, served with a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and dessert included a chocolate soufflé and cherry vanilla ice cream with California Champagne. Since 1985, a painting has served as a backdrop for the head table. For the 2017 inaugural luncheon, the featured painting was George Caleb Bingham‘s The Verdict of the People, which depicts a Missouri town and its citizens both celebrating and mourning the election victory of what historians say was a likely proslavery candidate.
Following the luncheon, Trump, Pence, and their wives reviewed an honor guard of troops at the East Front of the U.S. Capitol before beginning the parade. The inaugural parade route ran along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW from the U.S. Capitol, ending at the north face of the White House. During most of the parade, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump traveled in the armored limousine used by the President because of potential security threats. The President and First Lady exited their limousine twice, walking on Pennsylvania Avenue for portions of the parade, a longstanding custom. Vice President Pence and his wife Karen walked the parade route at several points with their children as well.
The parade lasted approximately two hours during the afternoon and early evening following the inaugural ceremony. Parade participants included more than 8,000 people, “representing forty organizations including high school and university marching bands, equestrian corps, first responders, and veterans groups,” according to the Joint Congressional Inauguration Committee. Each branch of the United States military was also represented.
Vice President Mike Pence invited several groups from Indiana to march in the parade in the Indiana section, including the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Drill Team, the Culver Military Academy, and the Columbus North High School marching band from Pence’s native Columbus, Indiana. Shortly after the parade, Trump went to the Oval Office to sign his first executive orders as president, including an order to start the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended three official inaugural balls during the evening of January 20, 2017, titled “Liberty and Freedom: The Official Presidential Inaugural Balls.” Donald Trump wore a classic black tuxedo, with a white button up shirt, and a black bow tie, in keeping with tradition. Melania Trump wore a white, off-the-shoulder, sleeveless gown designed by French-American fashion designer Hervé Pierre. Pierre has also designed dresses for First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, and he has been styling for Melania Trump for several years. The dress featured a front slit, a ruffled accent and a thin red belt to cinch the waist.
The Liberty Ball, one of two official balls held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, was the first stop of the evening for the President and First Lady. The Trumps danced to their first song, which was chosen to be “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, and was performed by Erin Boheme, an American jazz singer. In an attempt to allow more access to the inaugural balls, the Presidential Inauguration Committee announced that they intended to make the inaugural balls the most affordable in recent history, offering $50 tickets to either the Liberty or Freedom Balls. The second ball that the Trumps attended was the Freedom Ball, also held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and also featured a first dance to “My Way”, as with the Liberty Ball.
The third ball that the President and First Lady attended was the Salute To Our Armed Services Ball, which took place at the National Building Museum. The ball was by invitation only, with free tickets being provided to “active duty and reserve military, Medal of Honor recipients, wounded warriors, military families, veterans, and first responders,” according to the Presidential Inauguration Committee. At the beginning of the ball, Trump and his wife, Melania, addressed the crowd of gathered service members, and then spoke via satellite with active duty soldiers in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Trump thanked the active duty soldiers for the congratulations on his inauguration as Commander-in-chief. Tony Orlando and the Josh Weathers Band performed at the Armed Services Ball.
It is tradition for the President and First Lady, and the Vice President and Second Lady, to dance with military service members during the Armed Services Ball. A cover of the song “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston was performed during the dance. President Trump danced with U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Catherine Cartmell of Newport, Rhode Island. Sgt. Angel Rodriguez, who danced with Second Lady Karen Pence, drew attention for his dancing style, spinning the Second Lady, which provoked playful laughter from Tiffany and Eric Trump. After the dance concluded, President Trump and Vice President Pence used a saber to cut the ceremonial military cake in order to honor the sacrifice and service of the members of the Armed Forces.
On January 21, President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence gathered at the Washington National Cathedral for a national day of prayer, a tradition dating back to the first President, George Washington. Among the parishioners were more than two dozen religious leaders from a variety of different faiths. Marlana VanHoose, a 20-year-old vocalist who was born with cytomegalovirus, performed at the ceremony, singing “How Great Thou Art“. Melania Trump was visibly emotional during the performance, and led a standing ovation for her after she finished performing.The service began with call to prayer by the Reverend Rosemarie Duncan, Mikhail Manevich, a Jewish cantor, and Mohamed Magid, a Muslim imam. The clergy spoke of both compassion and diversity.
Before the event, federal and local agencies estimated turnout would be between 700,000 and 900,000. The federal government does not publish crowd estimates about events at the National Mall, so overhead imagery and statistics on public transportation ridership from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which operates Metrorail, are used to estimate crowd sizes. The WMATA reported that 193,000 passengers rode the Metro before 11 a.m. on the day of Trump’s inauguration, and 570,557 passengers during the entire day, lower than the average weekday ridership of 639,000 passengers. USA Today reported on “a notable number” of empty seats along the parade route.
Crowd counting experts cited by The New York Times estimated that about 160,000 people were in the National Mall areas in the hour leading up to Trump’s speech.Many news outlets published pictures comparing Trump’s inauguration crowd with Obama’s in 2009, showing the significant difference in size between the two. It is estimated that as many as 1.8 million people attended Obama’s 2009 inauguration – which set a record for the total number of people in the National Mall at any one given time.
In a press conference on January 21, Sean Spicer, Trump’s White House Press Secretary, falsely stated that the crowd “was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe”, and accused the media of reporting false crowd estimates to “lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration”. Spicer stated that 420,000 people rode the Metro on the day of Trump’s inauguration, and that only 317,000 rode on the day of Obama’s inauguration. In fact, WMATA figures report that 570,557 Metro trips were taken on the day of Trump’s inaugurations, compared to 1.1 million trips on the day of Obama’s first (2009) inauguration and 782,000 trips on the day of Obama’s second (2013) inauguration.
Numerous sources highlighted the fact that Spicer’s claims were incorrect, and many accused him of intentionally mis-stating the facts. In response to these claims, Donald Trump’s counselor and spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, stated that Spicer merely presented “alternative facts“. Todd responded by saying “alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.” On January 23, Spicer admitted his error concerning WMATA ridership levels, stating that he was relying on statistics given to him, but he stood by his claim that the inauguration was the most-viewed, stating he also included online viewership in addition to in-person and television in his estimates.
Nielsen ratings showed that television viewership of Trump’s inauguration in the United States was 30.6 million, lower than Obama’s inauguration in 2009 (38 million) and Ronald Reagan’s in 1981 (42 million). Trump’s inauguration became the most streamed video on Twitter on the site’s history with over 6.8 million views.
On January 20, the National Park Service‘s official Twitter account re-posted two Tweets that “the agency considered unsympathetic to President Trump.” (One was a Tweet from Binyamin Appelbaum of The New York Times comparing “the new president’s relatively small inaugural crowd compared with the number of people Barack Obama drew to the Mall when he was sworn into office in 2009”; the other was “about several omissions of policy areas on the new White House website.”) The Interior Department then circulated an “urgent directive” from the incoming administration, instructing social media managers at the department and its bureaus to “shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice.” The ban was lifted early the following day and the accounts were reactivated; an NPS spokesman said that the posts were “mistaken” re-tweets and issued an apology.
Protests and demonstrations
As of mid-December, there were 20 requests for demonstration permits for Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, including Bikers for Trump, and the Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for the day after inauguration day. Supported by nearly 200 activist groups and organizations, and drawing an estimated three times as many participants as the inauguration, the Women’s March demonstrated on racial and gender equality, affordable healthcare, abortion rights and voting rights.
Protests occurred during the inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The vast majority of protesters, several thousand in all, were peaceful. Disrupt J20 protesters linked arms at security checkpoints and attempted to shut them down. A group of protesters, some black-clad self-described anarchists, engaged in sporadic acts of vandalism, rioting, and violence. At least 217 were arrested and six police officers sustained minor injuries, and at least one other person was injured.
67 Democratic U.S. Representatives publicly stated they would not attend Trump’s inauguration, citing “what they described as his alarming and divisive policies, foreign interference in his election and his criticism of civil rights icon John Lewis, a congressman from Georgia”. Of the 67 boycotting, 66 came from safe Democratic seats where they are unlikely to face strong opposition from Republicans.
Democratic lawmakers skipping the inauguration specifically to protest Mr. Trump or to support Lewis:
Terri Sewell (D-Alabama),
Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona),
Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona),
Karen Bass (D-California),
Tony Cardenas (D-California),
Judy Chu (D-California),
Mark DeSaulnier (D-California),
Jared Huffman (D-California),
Barbara Lee (D-California),
Ted Lieu (D-California),
Zoe Lofgren (D-California),
Alan Lowenthal (D-California),
Jerry McNerney (D-California),
Grace Napolitano (D-California),
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California),
Raul Ruiz (D-California),
Mark Takano (D-California),
Juan Vargas (D-California),
Maxine Waters (D-California),
Alcee Hastings (D-Florida),
Darren Soto (D-Florida),
John Lewis (D-Georgia),
Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois),
Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois),
John Yarmouth (D-Kentucky),
Chellie Pingree (D-Maine),
Anthony Brown (D-Maryland),
Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland),
Michael Capuano (D-Massachusetts),
Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts),
John Conyers (D-Michigan),
Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota),
Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi),
Alma Adams (D-N.C.),
G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.),
Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.),
Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.),
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.),
Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.),
Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.),
Grace Meng (D-N.Y.),
Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.),
José Serrano (D-N.Y.),
Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.),
Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.),
Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio),
Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon),
Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon),
Brendan Boyle (D-Pennsylvania),
Robert Brady (D-Pennsylvania),
Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania),
Dwight Evans (D-Pennsylvania),
Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee),
Joaquin Castro (D-Texas),
Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas),
Al Green (D-Texas),
Filemon Vila (D-Texas),
Don Beyer (D-Virginia),
Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia),
Donald McEachin (D-Virginia),
Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington),
Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin),
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